I Signed Up!

I don't know about you, but I registered to go see the FREE showing of Razor on Monday, November 12. Are you going? If you are, drop a note below.

Skiffys unite! (Or is it Skiffies? Who knows how to spell a made-up word? Especially one treated with such great respect throughout the universe, one that has its OWN page in Wikipedia and is used by all those who dearly love Sci Fi.)


No Cigar, But A Diamond Tiara Will Do Just Fine

It doesn't look like I'll make my goal to finish writing Resurrection by October 30. I'm close, though. Really close. I can feel the ending on my fingertips, everytime they press the keyboard.

Scenes are flowing, characters are obedient. Even when they have to die.

I forgot that I cry when I kill off a character. It took me completely by surprise the other day. I had to stop and grieve for about half an hour. Even though I knew it was coming from the beginning.

Well, back to the mines of metaphor and plot twist.

It's a dirty job, but somebody has to destroy the world.

What I’m Reading

If you’re a writer, you should be reading. Goes with the publish-or-perish territory.

Here’s a list of what I’m reading or just finished:

1. Spook Country by William Gibson: just finished. Gibson’s eloquent, as usual, but I must confess that I felt like an intellectual half-wit through most of the book.

2. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card: just started, already halfway through (loving it!)

3. Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet: on chapter 4

4. Vanished by Kathryn Mackel: on chapter 4

5. How to Write Funny, edited by John B. Kachuba: jumping around and reading chapters at random. Great reference material.

6. The Children of Men: Halfway through the book. [Spoiler alert] Very discouraged by the main character. Any man who is happy when he accidentally kills his own infant is extremely hard for me to connect with.

7. Wicked by Gregory Maguire: on page 30. A bit slower than I expected.

It seems rather obvious, when I look over my list, that I am more willing to read science fiction than fantasy.

What can I say? I’m a Skiffy at heart.


Battlestar Galactica Returns

In serious withdrawal, Battlestar Galactica fans have already programmed their DVRs to record Razor on November 24, and pre-ordered the unrated extended DVD, which is coming out on December 4. If that's not enough, you can attend the advance screening event if you happen to live in one of the lucky regions: Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle.

It's free as long as you reserve your ticket.

Or, if you want to watch Flash Gordon on the Sci-Fi Channel on Friday nights, they're running "Razor flashbacks."

If you don't want to record and fast-forward through Flash, you can watch the flashbacks at http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/.


On Fire

The world is on fire. A rushing, hissing silver wind blows through the treetops and ashes mask the mountains. Half a million people have been evacuated as the flames steadily devour the landscape.

In my backyard, the world is on fire.


Creative Carnival: October 2007

Check out this month's Creative Carnival over at Write Stuff. It's full of the unexpected: everything scary, creepy and horrific.

And yes. Oddly enough, one of my stories is over there.

A Step Too Far

Personally, I have to say that Miller beer has gone a step too far with their recent endorsement of a Christ-mocking image.

There are a few things I hold sacred and Jesus happens to be one of them.

This is one of those times I'm glad I don't drink. At least I know I'm not supporting this company nor have I made a recent contribution to their advertising fund.

Boo, hiss, Miller. Very poorly done.


Reason Number Three

Any woman brave enough to carry her own mosquito net around with her deserves to be queen.

Reason Number Two

Georgia O'Keeffe meets Cate Blanchett in this stunning epic.
(Sorry, I had to say that.)

Reason Number One

A very good reason to go see "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." Pirates are the good guys.

Secret Confessions

I must confess that I am completely addicted to Fiction Friday. Any fiction writers out there, who are surfing the Net instead of writing, should check it out.

The home page for Fiction Friday is here.

You can check out my current Fiction Friday post on my Crop Circles blog.


Retro Christmas

I have to confess I love old things. It doesn’t matter whether they’re broken, battered or bruised, whether they’re from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Old is good. A piece of tattered lace, a vintage lamp, a sepia-toned photo—almost anything old-fashioned can capture my heart. Especially at Christmas time.

To most people an old-fashioned Christmas means hot cocoa and sugar cookies, Bing Crosby carols and a crackling fire. Nearly everyone has a Christmas memory of opening presents beneath a 7-foot evergreen tree that smells like heaven, while the landscape outside disappears beneath a blanket of fresh snow.

Not me.

The funny thing is I didn’t realize how different my Christmas memories were until I ran into them, head on. I was in a contemporary urban store—one of those trendy California shops that cater to a young, hip crowd—hunting for just the right gift for my twenty-something son, when I saw “it.”

Christmas personified: a spiky silver tree, as fake as they come, with maybe 12 branches total, all made of glittering tinsel. On the floor spun the magic color wheel, a spotlight that shined on the little tree, changing it from yellow to red to blue. And in between the primary colors flickered a million prismatic shades, melting into one another, tumbling over one other, each eager for a split-second moment to transform the world. Saffron changed to scarlet, vermilion to indigo, lavender to tangerine.

Like a deer in headlights, I froze. Lump in my throat. My eyes misting. Suddenly I was ten years old again, sitting on the floor in the apartment I shared with my mom and my sister, staring at our Christmas tree, mesmerized. Watching as the tree changed from emerald to aquamarine while all the other lights were turned down to a mere whisper. Outside an Illinois winter wind howled and icicles dripped from the eaves. Glassy stairways were treacherous and snow flurries spiraled through busy streets—an ever-changing paisley pattern of white on white.

But inside my living room was a drowsy, comforting heat, while in one corner stood all of the magic of Christmas: a tree that was never the same color longer than a heartbeat, surrounded by glittering packages filled with untold promise. Anything could be inside those boxes. A doll, a book, a sweater. A record, a hat, a necklace. The tree was a portal to another world, a land where colors danced and chased one another, where all the hopes and dreams of a year could be answered in an evening. In a moment.

In a fraction of a second, somewhere between amber and honey.

I was startled back to reality when I saw two teenagers staring at my tree, oohing and aaahing and giggling because it was so different. It was retro-chic. I think they liked it because it represented everything that Christmas wasn’t—this tree didn’t have prickly needles or sticky sap, it didn’t embody the fragrance of an evergreen forest at dusk.

What they didn’t realize—what very few people could realize—was what this “Charlie Brown” silver tinsel tree really did represent.

All the hopes and dreams of a ten-year-old girl’s Christmas.



Frankie Baby

"Just trim the toenails, Doc."


Best friends forever, Frank and the little woman.

A New Way of Thinking

Below is a list of other Victorian authors, besides those listed in the previous post, who carried the torch for this new evolving genre that we now call science fiction.

1. Edgar Allen Poe, 1809-1849
“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845)
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1836)

2. Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864
"The Birth-Mark" (1843)
"Rappaccini's Daughter" (1846)

3. Jules Verne, 1828-1905
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870)
From the Earth to the Moon (1865)

4. Sir Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1803-1873
The Coming Race (1871)

5. Edwin A. Abbott, 1838-1926
Flatland (1884)

6. Samuel Butler, 1835-1902
Erewhon (1872)

7. Mark Twain, 1835-1910
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889)

8. Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886)

9. Edward Bellamy, 1850-1898
Looking Backward (1888)

10. H.G. Wells, 1866-1946
The Time Machine (1895)
The War of the Worlds (1898)
The Invisible Man (1897)


The Big Chill

Historians called 1816 “The Year Without A Summer,” but literature enthusiasts saw it as the birth of a new genre.

Today the hot topic at any water cooler is the current state of our environment, otherwise known as global warming. What long-term effects will it have on our world? What can we do? How can we get involved?

But almost two hundred years ago, an entirely different scenario took place. Global cooling. And the results were completely unexpected.

It all began with a series of volcanic eruptions in the Caribbean, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. One estimate claims that Mount Timboro alone (in the East Indies) spewed a million and a half metric tons of dust into the stratosphere. The resultant diminished sunshine in 1816 caused a catastrophic and unexpected chain-reaction throughout Northern Europe, Newfoundland, the Canadian Maritimes, and the American northeast.

Frosts in May destroyed crops, which later caused food shortages and riots. Throughout the entire year, brown snow fell in Hungary and red snow fell in Italy. Almost a foot of snow blanketed Quebec City in June; in July--as far south as Pennsylvania--lakes and rivers chilled beneath layers of ice; within a matter of hours temperatures could swing from 95 degrees F to below freezing.

It was in the midst of this unpredictable year-with-no-summer that a capricious clique of intellectuals, writers and lovers decided to take a holiday. The group met in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, where they stayed together in the Villa Diodati, and their interlocking history reads like a daytime soap opera.

Heading up the literary troupe were current lovers Percy Bysshe Shelley, an English romantic poet who had been expelled from Oxford in 1811, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, daughter of a famous feminist and an anarchist philosopher. Included in the group were Lord Byron, a reckless and talented poet known for mercilessly breaking hearts, and his physician, John William Polidori. Rounding out the cast and connecting all the melodrama-dots was Mary’s stepsister, Claire Claremont, a former lover of Percy’s who was now pregnant with Byron’s illegitimate child.

All their plans for an idyllic summer holiday changed, however, as a direct result of the inclement and unpredictable weather. “But it proved a wet, ungenial summer,” Mary wrote in her diary, “and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house.” With the weather too dismal to go outside, they all decided to stay indoors and read ghost stories from a book called Fantasmagoriana. It proved a fun distraction for a while, but they soon decided that they could write much better tales.

So they challenged each other to write a horror story.

Like most writers under pressure, the young 19-year-old Mary got writer’s block. She watched in frustration while the others penned gothic tales. Then one night she had a startling “waking dream,” or vision, where she saw an entire story enfold before her.

“When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep,” Mary wrote of her experience. “Nor could I be said to think...I saw—with eyes shut, but acute mental vision—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.”

She had stumbled upon her story, a project that she would continue to work on and eventually publish. She had also inadvertently created an entirely new and different genre of fiction: science fiction.

Her story: Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.

Another noteworthy contribution from their little group was John Polidori’s The Vampyre, which would later influence Bram Stoker to write Dracula.

“What terrified me will terrify others,” Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley wrote of the vision that inspired her. “And I need only describe the spectre which haunted my midnight pillow.”

Science fiction would grow over the next century, with contributions by a vast number of mega-talented Victorian authors that include Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. It would involve a new approach, where the author continually asks himself, “What our world be like if . . .” Over the following two centuries science fiction writers would predict things like microwaves, cell phones, airplanes, space travel, computers and cyberspace. Today the United States Homeland Security Department employs a group of science fiction writers, including Greg Bear, to help combat terrorism by imagining “What if?” scenarios.

It’s possible that the cold spell of 1816 not only changed our literary landscape—it may have even changed the way we think.


Speculative Fiction Anthology on the Horizon

Residential Aliens Anthology, Volume 1: Speculative Fiction from the Seven Stars. Available November 1, 2007, this volume will be published by Residential Aliens, in association with The Writer's Cafe Press and The Lost Genre Guild.

The compilation of speculative stories with a faith-based twist comes from the on-line Zine, Residential Aliens, and will offer additional never-before-read stories, including those by:

+ George Duncan, author of the upcoming murder mystery, A Wine Red Silence (Capstone Fiction)

+ Patrick G Cox, author of high seas, deep space adventure, Out of Time (AuthorHouse)

+ Andy Bowers, contributor to the revived pulp classic, Superlative Tales.

+ Merrie Destefano, editor of Victorian Homes magazine, contributing editor of Romantic Homes, Cottages & Bungalows, Lodges, and Lofts magazines.

+ Plus many more!

Here's some "Advance Praise" for ResAliens Anthology:

“Residential Aliens Anthology offers well-written stories with plausible plots, interesting characters, and vivid descriptions spiked with conflict and tension as the pages carry you to other dimensions, times and worlds. Some stories make for fun light reading while others carry an underlying message of hope and truth. It’s a great collection.”
—Donna Sundblad, author of Windwalker (TheInkSlinger.net)

“Exciting speculative fiction that leaves you wanting more. Quality work!”
—Brandon Barr, co-author of When the Sky Fell (Silver Leaf Books)

“Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Residential Aliens has put together a collection of speculative fiction stories that grabs the reader from page one of their anthology, and never lets go.”
- Mike Lynch, co-author of When the Sky Fell (Silver Leaf Books)

“Intriguing stories that will stretch your imagination and make you think about Truth. I quite enjoyed them!”
- Jack Stinson, author of High Street and Hard Pursuit (Infinity Publishing)

Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming launch on November 1, 2007

Same bat time, same bat channel.


Marcher Lord Press Comes to Town

A new mover and shaker has just moved into town: Marcher Lord Press. Founded by Jeff Gerke (who writes under the pen name of Jefferson Scott), this new publishing house plans to focus on speculative fiction.

According to their Web site, which is all a-glitter with excitement and promise for those of us who love this genre, "The plan is to launch with three novels. Most likely they will be a fantasy, a science fiction, and a third one in another speculative genre, like time travel or supernatural thriller or chiller."

Well, this alien lover can't wait to see their first three books!

Way to go, Jeff. Keep up the great work.